Tohoku University's Kano Collection is an unparalleled collection of japanese books from the Edo period. The beautiful and grizzly Kaibou zonshinzu anatomical chart has been making the blogrounds lately but that's only one of the countless treasures the Kano Collection has to offer. Stumbling around near-blindly, like a non-Japanese reader such as myself, with only minimal help from the site, I have come across an amazing variety of beautiful objects, such as this picture book, a scroll with images of animals, city map, map of Japan, battle map, another picture book, the Kaitai shouzu anatomical chart and this picture scroll which has my favorite little scene I've come across in the collection. Whole days could be spent just surfing idly through the Kano Collection.
A Preview Of Tomorrow’s Olympic Torch Relay. Japan Probe has posted a few computer-generated examples of what the relay should look like, and links to a news report that states 10,000 Chinese will be in Nagano (location) (cuddly mascots) tomorrow to watch the torch relay. Japan had already canceled plans to stage the start of the torch run at Zenkoji Temple in the city; the temple was then mysteriously defaced. Previously on Japan Probe I II. Meanwhile, a tulip vandal who has been terrorizing Japan has been caught on tape. [more inside]
I want to put winter behind me like any other right-thinking Midwesterner, but these trees are too cool to ignore. [more inside]
Paradise: The Gardens of Tokyo. A collection of amazing photographs of Japanese gardens as taken by Tim Porter. [more inside]
Old Photos of Japan - a daily photoblog featuring images of Japan between the 1860s and 1930s.
Edo Photo Generator. Use this ancient photo generator (in JP, but a cinch to use) to give your photos that certain Edo look. Via C. Buddha's Hasty Musings
Whip it out and dance don't be afraid (NSFW?). Yes! It is that time of the year again : today Japanese people celebrate Kanamara Matsuri (金まら祭り), the annual Kawasaki Fertility Festival (previously on Hōnen Matsuri (豊年祭)
Samurai-Sword Maker's Reactor Monopoly May Cool Nuclear Revival There stands the only plant in the world...capable of producing the central part of a nuclear reactor's containment vessel in a single piece, reducing the risk of a radiation leak. From a windswept corner of Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island, Japan Steel Works Ltd. controls the fate of the global nuclear-energy renaissance. Each year the Tokyo-based company can turn out just four of the steel forgings that contain the radioactivity in a nuclear reactor. Even after it doubles capacity in the next two years, there won't be enough production to meet building plans. [more inside]
Iwase Yoshiyuki "In the late 1920s, young Yoshiyuki received an early Kodak camera as a gift. Since the main livelihood of the town came from the sea, he gravitated there, and soon found a passion for "the simple, even primitive beauty" of ama – girls and women who harvested seaweed, turban shells and abalone from beneath the coastal waters." "By the late 1960s, they had disappeared. This body of work stands as the final, most comprehensive visual document of the life and work of these divers." [NSFW] [more inside]
First it was hostess bars, then host bars, then maid/anime cafes, and now this. Where will the madness end? [more inside]
Bert Teunissen - Domestic Landscapes. Photographs of (mostly) senior citizens in their living rooms and kitchens. [more inside]
The 400 Million 四萬萬人民 - China, 1938 (53 minutes / sound / black&white / 35mm) Directed: Joris Ivens. Camera: ROBERT CAPA. Parts: 1 2 3 4 5 6 "The Japanese aggression against China in 1937 forced the Chinese communists and Chiang Kai-shek's Kwomintang to take up the joint battle against their common enemy. With modern weapons the Chinese are pursuing their struggle behind enemy lines. This film shows all aspects of a war: the battle, the preparations, refugees, casualties and victims, the fear and distress, the human misery and the courage, and the land under fire."
Nyanko The Movie 2. I've been thinking about ordering this, but I'm afraid it'd be my own personal Infinite Jest. It's a movie about cats. [more inside]
Howl's Moving Castle - in papercraft. Stop motion animation of the assembly here, flickr set of the finished product here, details on the kit here. Found via.
Sushi Science and Hamburger Science: I had always regarded science as universal and believed there are no differences in science at all between countries. But I was wrong. People with different cultures think in different ways, and therefore their science also may well be different. In this essay, I will describe differences I have observed between Western science and Eastern science. Let me start with a parable......
Trying to get unemployed youth interested in farming, Pasana O2 boasts a slick website (Japanese only unfortunately), a vision statement, a newsletter and oh yeah, an underground farm covering one square kilometer inside a former bank vault. [Via our very own]
This is a post about 6'4", 380 lb. professional fighter and entertainer Bob Sapp. A good place to start is this fantastic, disdainful overview of Sapp's kickboxing career through 2005. It features lots of pictures, crooked officiating, illegal blows to the back of the head, and some well-deserved humbling. Sapp is also known for a less distinguished MMA career, which includes one of the most exciting fights of all time, against the great Antônio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira (Watch it here: [Round 1] [Round 2]). [more inside]
Kiuchi Nobuo - a Japanese airman in World War II, was captured and sent to a prison camp in the Ukraine. He tells his story with drawings.
There is a small but very dedicated and enthusiastic group of people around the world making music with Nintendo Game Boys and other cheap electronic gadgetry. While many of them are consciously fitting their low-bit sonics into relatively straightforward and predictable dance-oriented forms, some others are taking a rather more whimsical and less predictable approach. One such favorite of mine is the utterly charming, Tokyo-based henna dress. Then there's her alter ego, beta dress. Then there's her 3rd alter ego, CAMEBOY (of GGG) . [more inside]
Shoukichi Kina, peace activist, club owner, environmentalist, sailor, critic of the US presence in Okinawa, proponent of Okinawan independence, and, since 2004, member of the Japanese House of Councillors has been playing his highly influential hybrid of traditional Okinawan min'yo, reggae, and other island music styles since he formed the band Champloose in 1968. [more inside]
"In the U.S., they're mixing drinks with herbs and other weird ingredients, but in Ginza the best guys just polish their cocktails like jewels." And perhaps no Japanese mixology master has contributed more than Kauzo Ueda, who has perfected the art of the hard shake, a refinement over more traditional shake styles. He has a disciple in NYC's Eben Freeman, who now imparts the secrets of the hard shake via a video tutorial. [more inside]
TOKYO International Great Quilt Festival 2008, a photo collection of beautiful Japanese art quilts. From Moonstitches via CRAFT.
American audiences remember Akira Kurosawa as the genius of the samurai epic, a past master who used the form both to revise and revive Western classics - Shakespeare with Ran and Throne of Blood, Dostoevsky with Red Beard and The Idiot, Gorky with The Lower Depths - and to give splendid and ultimately immortal life to new archetypes, as in The Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Yojimbo. But Kurosawa also made films of his own time. His masterpiece, in fact, was the quiet story of a gray Japanese bureaucrat dying in post-war Tokyo, and of his attempt to do something of lasting good before he leaves. The film is Ikiru ("To Live"; 1952). [more inside]
The Japanese National Archives have a nice set of late 1930s, pre-World War 2, civil defence posters, created in response to their hostilities with China: General Air Raid Defence; Blackout Control; Fire Protection; and Gas Attack. via Airminded, an excellent blog on "Airpower and British Society 1908-1941, mostly." [more inside]
Election poll fatigue? Diversify your daily dose of stats with What Japan Thinks. Check out Japan's favorite emoticons, thoughts on drinking vinegar, and of course awwcats. [more inside]
Japanese places and people photographed by Felice Beato, a pioneer 19th century photographer who documented the Crimean War, the Indian Mutiny and the Anglo-French military intervention in China before opening a studio in Yokohama in 1863. He also seems to have been the first photographer in Korea.Wikipedia NYPL archive First two links are units in MIT's Visualizing Cultures project.
...Japanese hip hop has become a significant national, cultural, and business genre since the late twentieth century, and this phenomenon has been applied and has succeeded by using almost the same ideology that was historically used by other Japanese industries like automobile manufacturing. The pioneers in the Japanese hip hop industry like Buddha Brand learned their skills in the U.S. and have successfully been influencing the contemporary Japanese music scene. As a result, the imported hip hop has become a ''Japanized'' products. Many hip hop industries in Japan have modified the American hip hop into Japanese ways, and their businesses, like the hip hop dance schools, have succeeded.The Japanese Hip Hop Movement: Its Cultural and Economic Impact [more inside]
"Australians must not use whales to justify the racist ideology" The Australian government's [proto] stance on Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean has drawn a strong response by an anonymous youtube poster, citing racism as the core reason the Australian Government is taking a stand on the Japanese Whale Research Programme [caution, gruesome video and yet more racist youtube comments]. It seems Steve and Terri Irwin are trying to stop them.
Dee Dee bellbottom jeans. According to a friend who lived in Tokyo recently, Dee Dee is rumored to be one of the hottest independent brands this winter, among the ultra-hip Shibuya youth. Dee Dee's shop is just a few blocks from the notorious Shibuya 109 building, the homebase of all kogals. (prev) [more inside]
Netsuke of the Meiji Period is an online exhibit from the Los Angeles County Museum, noted for the depth of its collection. (more). The György Ráth Museum and the Ferenc Hopp Museum also house a fine classic collection. (more). Today, netsuke carving is alive and well - see the Kiho Collection for one young master. If you would like to explore more sculpture for the hand, the International Netsuke Society has a good link list to many excellent contemporary netsuke artists.
Rule No. 1: Two bugs to a fight. Rule No. 2: Bug fights go on as long as they have to. Rule No. 3: No outside weapons in bug fights.
After I posted this article, many people asked me who listens to that berserk music. Well, it's most popular with Japanese girls lumped under the general term "gyaru". It is not really a fashion movement per se, as it has fractured into scores of rapidly-evolving subgroups--usually hostile to each other, even though many appear the same to the uninitiated. In fact, the book Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno, published in 2007, is already said to be out of date. This website is a bit more current. What do "gyaru" look like? There are now quite a few slideshows of gyaru on the streets of Tokyo on YouTube. Examples: here, here, and here. And for those who need to buy these "fashions", the primary bibles are FRUiTS and Egg. There is something wrong with that country.......
Girlfriend just broke up with you? Feeling a little stress? Be careful how you relieve it - you may end up on the wrong side of the law (or be the subject of a cartoon depiction).
The Zen Mind - An Introduction. A Day in the Life of a Zen Monk. Zazen - A Guide to Sitting. Interview with a Zen Buddhist Priest (previously). [more inside]
"My humble efforts to assist in the elucidation of the social condition of a distant and comparatively unknown race."
Mizuko Kuyo, meaning "water-child memorial service" is a memorial service held by or for those who have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion, and has become widespread in Japan since the 1970's. (Wikipedia definition). Peggy Orenstein relates her experience with miscarriage and this ritual in Mourning My Miscarriage - In Japan, I Find a Culture Willing to Acknowledge My Loss. [more inside]
Child-bearing machines, net café refugees and bottom-biting bugs: Top 60 Japanese buzzwords of 2007.
"Over and over he scoops up a chick with his left hand, expels its droppings with a squeeze of his thumb, opens its vent with his fingers, peers through the magnifying lenses attached to his spectacles and determines its sex." It's a dirty job (YT). Sexing chicks early is important so that the cockerels can be separated and culled^ or fed to be broilers^. The obvious differences take weeks to develop, so when the vent sexing method was developed in Japan in the 1920s, professional chicken sexers became sought after. [more inside]
"[Game Center CX] is comedic, dramatic, even a bit mental, but altogether it’s an unforgettable show about what sounds like a forgettable concept: a guy trying to beat old Nintendo games." [more inside]
Meet Rob Pongi (sometimes known as Evil Pongi) an american, doing something different in Japan. Sometimes he's chillin with some sexy and beautiful Japanese women enjoy a very exciting Tokyo dance party! Other times he translates North Korean soap operas into english for our edification. He just finished his first Hollywood movie, and he's very proud of it. Join his fan club here. You can watch all of his videos here.
Respect speed limit, get free music from...asphalt ? When driving in Japan remember to respect the speed limits , you may be instantly rewarded by hearing a tune as played by...your car and the road.
The manga series "Death Note." The first volume. The adapted anime series, newly arrived on Adult Swim. The Japanese movie trailer. Spoilers: Possible origins. The early press. Interviews with writer Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata. The controversy. The collectibles. The online Death Note. The last volume, finally released in the US and reviewed.
An Identification Guide of Japanese Moths Compiled by Everyone. Well, not everyone, but a lot of people and a lot of moths.
Some countries are shaped like their economic Phillips curve. Japan bears a strong resemblance to its Phillips curve. The Czech Republic does too, a little. And Canada’s similarity to its Phillips curve it less obvious, but it’s still there.